In a recent interview with The Verge, Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, communicated his dislike of gaming tribalism or what is more commonly referred to as console wars. Within the last decade or so, gaming tribalism has grown ever more common in online communities. So much so that several extremist fans have communicated a wish for exclusive games only available on one platform to fail.
Of course, tribalism is nothing new. Think of Coke V.S. Pepsi. We all have strong emotional connections with many brands that are based on our past experiences and environment. But why don’t we hear people wishing for Pepsi to go out of business so Coke can prevail?
My theory is that consumers have to rationalize their buying decisions and create reasons why they did not buy both consoles. Gaming, like many hobbies, is expensive. Buying a Coke cost a dollar, but buying a gaming console is between 200 and 500 dollars. And combining this need to rationalize a purchase with the intense emotional feelings and attachment towards one brand, in my opinion, has created gaming tribalism.
Of course, this is not healthy for these competing companies or you as a consumer. This tribalism creates division and toxic online communities. And competition fuels innovation in all industries, so if one of these companies did go out of business, it could have unforeseen negative impacts on the games industry.
Tribal Gaming Journalism
What is even more, though, is serval major gaming news sites have taken to tribal journalism, which has only amplified and given more credibility to console wars. In an article by Thomas Hanitzsch, he states, “News-making used to be the business of objective, neutral, and detached reporting.” The idea of subjectivity and bias infiltrating journalism is becoming more accurate every day.
Recently, in a Kotaku review of the PlayStation 5, the author spent the last eight paragraphs of the review talking about COVID-19, financial hardships, and how the author didn’t believe now was the right time to release new consoles. Does this belong in a product review? Does this help the reader understand the merits and faults of a console they are looking to buy? It does not.
Journalism is meant to inform the public of critical and factual information. But anymore, it seems to be a practice of peddling misinformation and pushing self-interests. Many in the gaming press seem to emphasize their personal beliefs than provide valuable, unbiased, and fair information to the people.
What Can You do?
But is it over? Has tribal journalism and console wars won? The answer is only if you let it. There are still content creators and a few websites like Constant Gamer that provide honest and accurate gaming media. Where you get your information matters, it could be the difference between wasting money on a bad game after reading a faulty review or discovering a fantastic way to save money on the games you buy.
The best way to stop bias journalism is by getting your news from a source you can trust. You have the choice now on what is important, and you, as a reader, have the power to create impactful change by determining which outlets you use to stay informed on events in the games industry.